A study by the University of Pittsburg found that mindfulness meditation can help reduce severe back pain pain in older people. The study will be published in the March issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.
The study focused on adults aged 65 years and older who experienced severe back pain daily or almost daily. The participants were guided through 3 different kinds of mindfulness meditation for an 8 week program followed by 6 monthly sessions. The mindfulness meditation practices used in the study were modeled on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program. Here they are:
- Self-examination of the body without judgement
- Breath focus while sitting
- Walking meditation with awareness of body sensations
At the end of the program and even 6 months later, the test group experienced relief from long-term and most severe pain measures.
What this means for a sufferer of backpain
This is very good news for sufferers of severe back pain. You can try this immediately. It’s very simple. Let’s get right to it with a very light set of instructions for a 15 minute session:
- Find a quiet place where you can get comfortable and reduce distractions.
- Recline or sit as needed.
- Set a timer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Take a few deep breaths and slowly close your eyes.
- Slowly notice how your body feels from head to toe.
- Observe the sensations in the different areas of your body. Notice and accept them.
- You may experience emotions around these sensations due to a long history of pain. Notice and accept them as well.
- Notice how the sensations and emotions are not you but are feelings that you experience.
- Move through the body a couple of times with this process.
- Repeat daily.
If you do this meditation over time, you’ll start to notice differences. The ability to separate yourself from the pain or the emotions is a powerful skill. It takes time to develop, but it will develop. Meditation can be a hard habit to start. If necessary, you can make the practice much easier to do so you can do it regularly. Shorten the time to 5 minutes for example. You can also use the popular meditation apps Calm or Headspace.
If you’d like to go deeper on this meditation program, here is a free resource on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program: http://palousemindfulness.com/